Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Making Myers-Briggs Work for You[]

Within the last decade, Dr. Helen Fisher discovered the biological correlations to the Myers-Briggs (and David Kiersey) personality types. They are based on the neurotransmitters dopamine and seratonin, and the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen.

Myers-Briggs types are comprised of 4 indicators, each of which has one of two possible values. However, those values are really on a scale and they can be either "strongly typed" (extreme of one value or the other) or "loosely typed". People with loosely typed values are better at morphing into alternative types when the situation requires it.

The pairs of indicators are: I/E S/J T/F J/P





David Kiersey took the Myers-Briggs Types and discovered that the second indicator (Sensory/Intuitive) would determine if the third indicator (Thinking/Feeling) was more significant or if the the fourth indicator (Judging/Perceiving) was more significant in determining personality. In other words, a person who has "N" in the second indicator would have their personality determined by whether the next indicator was F or T. But a person who has "S" as their second indicator would have their personality determined by whether the last indicator was P or J.

So Kiersey repackaged Myers-Briggs Type Indicators into 4 basic personality types, which could be subdivided: the Kiersey Temperment Sorter.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, filled in an important missing piece of information when she mapped the Keirsey Temperments to chemicals within the human body. It was only *after* developing her theories about attraction and personality types, Fisher discovered that her types could be matched with the Kiersey types. Once she discovered this, she was able to correct two important misconceptions that had been assumed by Kiersey. And yes, changing the chemical balance of these secretions do make the expected changes in personality.

Dopamine and serotonin are complementary and therefore an increase in one is accompanied by a decrease in the other. In "S" types, dopamine maps to Perceiving and serotonin maps to Judging.

Testosterone and estrogen are not complementary. It is possible to be high in both, or low in both. Or high in estrogen and lower in testosterone (most of these people are women). Or high in testosterone and low in estrogen (most of these people are men).

All people have all 4 of these secretions in their bodies. It is the relative amounts that determine personality, attraction, compatibility, and ability to morph. High testosterone people, including women will be drawn to working in science, technology, engineering, and math. They have high levels of focus and drive. High estrogen people, including men, are good communicators and will be drawn to work in service professions - teaching, medicine. High dopamine people will be drawn to working in the arts, or in high stakes or risky professions: venture capitalists. High serotonin people will want to establish order, and will be corporate executives, clergy. Helen Fisher has found that men with both high testosterone and high estrogen can be found among football players.

Helen Fisher's studies concluded that the people who have "S" as their second indicator get along best with (and are attracted to) people of the same type as themselves. People who have "N" as their second indicator are drawn to people with the opposite value in their third indicator. In other words, NF people are attracted to NT people and vice versa. I have renamed that second indicator as Same-Seeking (S) and Different-Seeking (N).

The type of people who wind up being corporate executives are the type that are same-seeking and order-creating. Without external influence or a strong belief in diversity, these people will naturally tend to fill positions in their company along very traditional lines and may create a monoculture. The most focused coders and sys admins will tend to be INTJ. Generally, INTJ do not want to be managers, until they see a manager making mistakes. INTJs will speak up when they observe others mistakes and will understand the consequences of policies in advance of the other types. If a manager makes repeated mistakes, an INTJ may at that point want to take on their job, in order to correct the bad decisions. INTJs and managers tend to butt heads unless they are both very aware of their situations and make an effort to work together and understand each other, mutual respect being an important key. NT people will "slap you in the face" - they will tell you directly when they perceive that you are responsible for a problem. Everyone else will stab you in the back, they will not confront you directly, but indirectly or talk to others but not you. In technology, the NF people will wind up as leads and project managers because they are good communicators. The Pacific Northwest has the highest percentage of NF men in the world. People who are strongly typed will be comfortable performing a smaller set of tasks than people who are loosely typed.

NTs will work best with NFs, NFs will work best with NTs. S_Js will work best with other S_Js, S_Ps will work best with other S_Ps. NTs will tend to hire NFs, NFs will tend to hire NTs, etc. If an NT person is attracted to opposite sex people and is working with an opposite sex NF person, attractions may form. If an NT person is attracted to same sex people and is working with a same sex NF person attractions may form. If an NT person is attracted to opposite sex people and is working with a same sex NF person, they will be best buddies. The same Kiersey Type that would be the type of person you are attracted to if they are of the sex that you find attractive, would be your close friend if they are not of the sex you are attracted to.

Speculation: Asperger's Syndrome has been linked with testosterone, which is why there are more males that have it than females. The females who have Asperger's tend to be high testosterone females.

Speculation: High concentration of NF men associated with high concentration of High Tech?

Puns: I think we should consider writing IT (information technology) as I_T (introvert thinking).

When we think about Myers-Briggs, we always need to remember, that the indicators are a scale. Sometimes people who are "loosely typed" like to work in their non-dominant fields to stretch their abilities.

Coordination of Systems

Serotonin Builder Guardian _S_J Sensing Judging
Dopamine Explorer Artisan _S_P Sensing Perceiving
Estrogen Negotiator Idealist _NF_ Intuition Feeling
Testosterone Director Rational _NT_ Intuition Thinking

The best Helen Fisher videos are on Authors at Google and TED. Both of these videos focus on romantic love and attraction, but in them she also provides most of the information supplied above. The rest I found from reading her books.